SWANA Statement on US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries
January 10, 2024 – The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its 2022 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.
The results showed that “refuse and recyclable materials collectors” was the 7th deadliest job that year, the same rank as 2021 but down from 6th most dangerous in 2020.
The overall rate of fatalities among the “refuse and recyclable material collectors” occupation decreased, which is positive news for the industry. The 2022 rate was 22.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTE). This is a decrease from
2021, which had a rate of 27.9 per 100,000 FTE.
“We are pleased that the overall rate of worker fatalities among the ‘refuse and recyclable material collectors’ occupation decreased from last year,” said Amy Lestition Burke, Executive Director & CEO at the Solid Waste Association
of North America (SWANA). “The first goal in SWANA’s Strategic Plan: Forward, Together is getting collection workers off the list of the ten occupations with the highest fatality rate. We will work to continue the reduction in
worker fatalities through continued industry engagement.”
Transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event according to the BLS census. Transportation safety has been and will continue to be a focus for SWANA to support all its members.
SWANA provides training, outreach, and resources specific to transportation safety, which include: SWANA’s weekly “Safety First” newsletter, the “Five to Stay Alive” handout, the Backing Best Management Practices handout,
SWANA’s Safety Pledge, Safety Summits, and the Safety Ambassadors program.
“Collection workers provide an essential service to communities and need our support. We encourage drivers to slow down when approaching a collection vehicle and to switch lanes safely when possible. Raising awareness about how to protect collection workers
is an important step in preventing accidents. SWANA will continue to integrate safety throughout its activities and member engagement,” said Art Mercer, President of SWANA.
“SWANA is committed to our goal of improving industry safety through resources and advocacy efforts,” Mercer added.
The BLS News Release on the census also included information on heat-related fatalities, stating that “Fatalities due to exposure to temperature extremes increased 18.6 percent in 2022, rising to 51 from 43 in 2021. Fatalities specifically due to
environmental heat were 43 in 2022, up from 36 in 2021.”
Two of the strategies in SWANA’s Strategic Plan relate directly to temperature impacts: encouraging the development of temperature standards for employees working in the industry and developing training materials on handling climate-related effects,
“SWANA’s robust safety programming provides ongoing resources for public and private solid waste operations of all sizes throughout the United States and Canada. This data is a reminder that we need to make sure that safety is a core value
and top priority across all lines of business,” Lestition Burke said.
SWANA appreciates the support of the companies whose sponsorships help make these safety initiatives possible, contributing to the industry’s overall safety performance. For more information about SWANA’s safety initiatives and getting involved,
please contact us or visit https://swana.org/initiatives/safety